serenity now

This is for those (like myself) that seem to get caught up in the 'hustle' of the daily grind and all those extra curricular activities that 'free time' demands of us. Most of us would like to de-stress our lives. One step at a time we can do that from the inside to the outside.  
So I feel important to take a moment to write about creating a sense of calm in your garden. There are simple design principles to take to heart when creating your very own private oasis. This could be an extension of your home; fit for everyday use or simply an effort to enhance visual appeal and beckon you to find your inner peace.  

schematic rendering of a backyard retreat
Use subtle color changes. I tend to like gray, silver, and blue hues for setting a tranquil scene. Inevitably, most plants are predominately greenish in natural light so the pairing of foliage color and texture counts. Since plants have limited bloom times- 
shapes, size and contrast of these elements is more important than 
flower color.


Plan to have a destination for relaxation like a hammock or a lounge chair/ chaise, or if space is limited; just a place to place a mat and some pillows. Orient this feature toward your most relaxing view. Encourage the desire to use the space for meditation, or napping, reading, etc. 

Repetition and mass planting with simple lines
A great approach is to copy.  We can learn much from 'the Zen masters'....the Japanese and the Scandinavians.
Though I've never been to Japan, I have traveled through Sweden, Finland, and Denmark. What I found most inspiring was how their modern 
design takes the idea of 'form follows function' to the next level. 
Simple lines, mass plantings, and subtle color changes all play their part. 
I find that straight lines can be calming, but curves can soften; which ultimately feels more laid-back. 
I typically implement a combination- using curvelinear arrangements 
for planting bed lines against lawns and hardscapes (such as paths, patios), and rectilinear configurations for patios and deck. This is often implemented to maximize space and ease of construction.
Another good practice is to plant in masses, yielding long swaths of of color and texture, limiting the variety. 


Creating continuity in a garden is a balancing act. Though I love a limited palette, I sometimes feel the need to add a pop of color for drama. Besides using art or flower color this could be a material choice such as wood, copper, or steel. The patina of those elements can create interest and add warmth and vibrancy to a garden scene.
Adding other amenities such as a fountain for some sound ambiance, lighting, and/ or a fire feature for night enjoyment. 
It is good practice to encourage privacy and at the same time direct the good views, or vistas that reveal a focal point (art or artifact perhaps). Basic planning should work to hide any eye-sores as well. 
The plants, stone, and other elements in the scene should be viewed and designed as a whole.This holistic approach can be planned in advance and implemented over time; evolving with maturity. 
Whether it be creating a place for private contemplation, outdoor yoga practice, reading, napping, enjoying a cocktail, or a cup of tea; having a usable space to escape to is a valuable and functional addition to any home.

elegantly minimalist roof deck

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